Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite: Not Perfect, But Still Pretty Darn Good

The new Kindle Paperwhite isn’t the perfect character. Just like the literary creations that live and die on its screen, it has flaws. It’s wise, though it still suffers from memories of its past. But in the great e-reader saga, it’s clearly the protagonist, and one worth rooting for.

The Paperwhite’s screen is brilliant in the literal sense of the word, as it glows. The new Kindle isn’t the first e-reader with a screen that lights up: Barnes & Noble beat Amazon to the punch by five months with its Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight. But the light-up screen on the new Kindle surpasses the one on the Nook because it solves most (but not all) of the light uniformity issues evident on the earlier device.

Granted, illuminating an e-ink screen is difficult. The most common solution is to use a nano-printed “light guide” — the LEDs sit at the bottom of the device, and a thin plastic screen with tiny patterns etched into it carries the light toward the middle and top of the display. The scores gradually disperse the beams, allowing more light to permeate to the top as the nano guides get further form the light source. This creates an even distribution of soft light, and the whole screen gently glows. It’s much less fatiguing than a back-lit screen (like a tablet) and is more comfortable during late-night reading sessions.

But, like the Nook, the light source creates a problem: blossoms of LED light appear at the bottom of the screen. It’s fainter than the light-source bleed found on the Nook, but it’s still there. It’s only annoying at the bottom of the screen, but it breaks up the flow of an otherwise flawless screen.

Fortunately, the attention Amazon has paid to the rest of the screen makes up for these lighting hiccups. Text on the Kindle Paperwhite is darker and crisper than what I’ve seen on previous-generation Kindles. Also, the background color of the screen is lighter than previous Kindles…

Read more: Roberto Baldwin, Wired

Back to top